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August 22, 2003, Achiever
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August 22, 2003
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Federal law is making a difference
The following editorial appeared in last Sunday's Hattiesburg (MS) American:

Federal law is making a difference

Something remarkable is taking place in public education.

While it may be too early to call it a "revolution," it's clear there's a heightened sense of accountability among the nation's educators and a heightened sense of expectation among parents.

This accountability/expectation was palpable—and pervasive—last week before and after the release of test scores for students in the Pine Belt.

Consider: When was the last time so much attention accompanied the release of test scores?

Answer: Not in recent memory.

There's a reason for this renewed sense of urgency/expectation: The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, the centerpiece of President Bush's education reform package, which establishes strict accountability levels for schools.

No Child Left Behind calls for every child to demonstrate solid academic performance and mastery of skills required for success. If students don't achieve proficiency, their schools will be held accountable.

The ultimate goal of the legislation is for 100 percent of students in every school to score at the proficient level on tests in reading and mathematics by 2014.

Schools must make adequate yearly progress in order to meet the federal standards.

Schools that fail to meet federal standards run the risk of losing students—and federal funding.

No Child Left Behind has put school superintendents, administrators and teachers on notice: The status quo is no longer acceptable. Students must make progress. If they don't, the school will be held accountable.

the intense interest in the recently released student scores on the Mississippi Curriculum Test, which is given to students in grades 2-8 and used to determine the number of students who are proficient as required under No Child Left Behind. Hence the lengthy explanations by school superintendents about the meaning of these scores, and of the steps their respective school districts are taking to raise their standards.

The verdict is still out on No Child Left Behind.

However, after only two years on the books, No Child Left Behind appears to have reinvigorated the educational establishment, which can and must be accountable for the education of our children.

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About Extra Credit
NCLB Extra Credit is a regular look at the No Child Left Behind Act, President Bush's landmark education reform initiative passed with bipartisan support in Congress.

If you would like the NCLB Extra Credit emailed to you, please send a request to Geoff Goodman at NoChildLeftBehindUpdate@ed.gov or call (202) 205-9191.

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Last Modified: 08/28/2003